Virginia Distillery Company has released their flagship single malt whisky, Courage and Conviction, following up on their ‘sneak peek’ preview release last year, the so-called ‘Prelude’ edition. I reviewed the ‘Prelude’ back in February and commented at the time that I was looking forward to the full version.
Well, I got my hands on a sample bottle of the ‘full’ version so let’s see where we are at. First thing is that I was kind of expecting a longer maturation period but I can see no evidence of that. The description on the sampler bottle seems identical to that on the Prelude. This leads me to think that the Prelude was simply an early ‘soft’ release of the same product into the market.
Incidentally, check out their website for the details of this first ‘full’ version (Dr. George G. Moore batch). Perhaps the most detailed timeline and description of the process and data I have ever seen put up on a distillery website. Bravo.
This is my review of the ’Prelude’ from February…..
Courage and Conviction Prelude American Single Malt Whisky. 46% ABV, NAS.
The Prelude is three years old and is a blend of malt whiskies matured in bourbon, sherry and cuvee barrels. The bottle design tapers outward from the bottom giving it an appearance normally seen in, say, fancy gin bottles. Not sure if this is the right choice for a single malt whisky. ?
Color: 0.4. Jonquiripe Corn.
Nose: Quite light at first, but builds, with fruits being most prominent. These are mostly tropical ‘fruit salad’ aromas. There is a sweet bake aroma as well, perhaps butterscotch cookies. Some balance is offered with a ‘dry white wine’ aroma in the background.
Taste: Quite viscous for what is said to be a three year old, very smooth with good warmth development. Flavors are consistent with the aroma, mango and melon, and just a little sherry.
Finish: Medium length with no surprises. Lingering fruit sweetness.
Verdict: B+. Very clean, straightforward, and easy going. An afternoon whisky? Expecting some stronger wood influences in the ‘main’ release later this year.
Now, let’s compare the two side by side and see if I can pick up on any significant differences. Well, having done that, the overall assessment for both is still as above. For what they are worth, here are the similarities and differences I experienced.
• The color of the whiskies appears identical.
• On the nose both are reserved, with the Prelude a touch more aromatic and pungent while the full version is a little softer.
• On the palate, the Prelude is light with the fruits upfront, while the full version is a touch sweeter, with the sherry/cuvee influence very slightly more pronounced.
• Finishes are similar, with the lingering salad fruits and steady heat
Bottom line: Differences are subtle and maybe no more than the expected batch to batch variations for the same ‘recipe’. If you do not have a bottle of this whisky, get one.